With the onset of seasonal flu and other weird respiratory viruses going around, here are some vital tips that may help you and your family members.

1. FIRST AND FOREMOST, STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Unlike bacterial infections, there is not much we can do about virus infection.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Flu vaccines may help; however, each season, the flu strains are attaining more virulence and with new viruses like Covid19, there isn’t any effective vaccine available, so your best bet is to strengthen and boost your own immune system. The human immune system has evolved into a powerful organ with unparalleled comparison. It can not only create innumerable combinations of targeted cells to selectively kill infectious bugs human body encounters on a daily basis but also developed clever ways to preserve and nurture good bugs. With highly mutating virus strains such as Coronavirus Covid19, your innate immune system plays a vital role in safeguarding you. The immune system’s combativeness typically declines with age, making older people more vulnerable to many pathogens, which is why more flu fatalities are seen in elderly folks. 

So, how can you boost your immunity?

 –   Try immunity-enhancing nutritional supplements:

Vitamin and mineral supplements such as Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 have a positive impact on the immune system. Glutathione is a natural tripeptide that has shown to induce innate immunity. Taking DHA-rich omega fatty acids enhance the immune B cells, so if you are not taking fish oil, including a fish oil supplement can be significant of value. Recent studies have shown that nurturing a diverse gut flora and microbiome can really strengthen and balance the immune system. So, picking a good microbiome diversifying probiotic with prebiotics may bolster your good gut flora and immunity.

Certain active components in herbs such as Pelargonium sidoides (Umckaloaba), Aloe arborescens, Echinacea, and Astragalus have extensively studied with preliminary clinical validation to boost the respiratory immune system (1-3). Out of the countless supplement products, how do you pick a few?

I would recommend finding clinically studied ingredients or some human data-driven products. For example, immunobiotics LP-20 is a clinically proven ingredient that supports cells involved with the functioning of the immune system against upper respiratory infections (4-5). Clinical studies using LP-20 have shown that it improves the immune system and decreases the incidence and symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. There are other ingredients; do your research and look for supplement facts.

Not all supplements work the same way to induce the immune system, so you may be better off by combining a few that have some synergistic benefits. It is better to discuss the supplement plan with your primarycare physician or physician who is well versed in geriatric nutrition.

–   Reduce stress and get proper sleep

Getting enough rest and adequate sleep is very important for optimal immunity. High stress can induce hormones such as cortisol that can significantly compromise your immune system. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

2. STAYING HEALTHY AND BE VERY PROACTIVE NOT TO GET INFECTIONS

Moderate exercise and physical activities can positively charge up your immunity. Try to get at least 150-160 minutes of moderate activity a week. This can be as simple as brisk walking which has numerous physical health benefits and also alleviates body stress.

Drink clean water and properly cooked foods, any infection, whether it is mild or moderate, can have additional workload for your immune system. Staying healthy is especially important in the wake of the Covid19 like viral infections. Think about it, if you have a severe flu or other bacterial infections that may transiently weaken your immune system that itself might pave the way for more serious respiratory infections. So, take proactive and preventative steps not to get the flu or other infections. I strongly recommend getting your annual flu shot to prevent flu or reduce its severity. If you have any doubts about any symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider or public health official.

The symptoms of the Coronavirus Covid19 can include a dry cough, possibly with a fever, myalgia and shortness of breath. Non-respiratory symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea may also occur. These symptoms can be mistakenly taken for other infections or health issues, so it is always better to get checked up.

3. GOOD HYGIENE GOES A LONG WAY

Keeping good hygiene is key to avoid viral infections. Remember the first line of defense is to keep germs at bay by following good personal hygiene habits. Stop infection before it begins and avoid spreading it to others with these easy measures:

  • Frequent hand washing is crucial for keeping bugs from entering the mouth, nose and eyes, where they can spread infections
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, or cough into your elbow rather than your hand.
  • Avoid frequently touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

4. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS

The more fluidity your blood has, the better it is against viral infections. Water is your friend against infections. Drink lots of it, along with other clear liquids and electrolytes to prevent fluid loss or dehydration. Give kids low sugar orange loaded with vitamin C or other citrus-based juices.

5. TRY TO AVOID CLOSE CONTACT WITH PEOPLE

It is better to avoid touching or coming into close contact with others (not just sick people!). Try to keep 6 ft of distance from people in gathering and stay home if you feel sick. If your kid feels sick, do not send them to school. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with others.

6. TRY TO EAT VERY HEALTHY FOODS

Like any fighting power, the immune system army hikes on its stomach. Healthy immune soldiers need balanced and enriched nourishment. Eating healthy becomes more important during flu and cold season. A healthy diet can really nurture your good gut flora and give preventative support against infectious diseases. Make sure to eat superfoods with more vitamin C, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium.

Here is a shortlist of “rainbow superfood’ that you can include in your menu:

  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Oranges
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Pomegranate
  • Organic Blueberry
  • Mushrooms

Remember to have a few healthy snacks in your backpack. Mixed nuts are a good option; nuts (e.g. Brazil nuts) are loaded vital micronutrients such as selenium, zinc, and copper and also contain healthy fats and fiber. Having a few servings of omega-3 enriched seafood and fermented foods per week can definitely nourish your cells against infections.

The severity and spread of a virus infection on any given population depends on its members also. If more people are aware and stay informed, the less chance of disease vigorous spread. So take practical steps and measurements on an individual basis and on a community outreach basis; stay connected with your friends and family and social networks; look for local public health and national (e.g CDC) advisory notices; have a helpful mind to assist others who need help.

References:

1.Michaelis M, Doerr HW, Cinatl J, Jr. Investigation of the influence of EPs((R)) 7630, a herbal drug preparation from Pelargonium sidoides, on replication of a broad panel of respiratory viruses. Phytomedicine. 2011 Mar 15;18(5):384-6.
2.Luna LA, et al. Immune responses induced by Pelargonium sidoides extract in serum and nasal mucosa of athletes after exhaustive exercise: Modulation of secretory IgA, IL-6 and IL-15. Phytomedicine. 2011 Feb 15;18(4):303-8.
3. Matthys H, Heger M. Treatment of acute bronchitis with a liquid herbal drug preparation from Pelargonium sidoides (EPs 7630): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study. Curr Med Res Opin. Feb 2007;23(2):323-331.
4. Hirose Y. Oral intake of heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 (LP-20) decreases the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection in healthy subjects with high levels of psychological stress. J Nutr Sci. 2013 Dec 6;2:e39. doi: 10.1017/jns.2013.35. eCollection 2013.
5. Hirose Y et al. Daily intake of heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 (LP-20) augments acquired immunity in healthy adults. J Nutr. 2006 Dec;136(12):3069-73.